The health check-ups men shouldn’t ignore

Why is it when it comes to regular health checkups, many men like to stick their heads in the sand? Some are lifesavers and shouldn’t be ignored

Annual health check-ups are your doctor’s way of checking the body for any possible signs of illnesses or diseases. Men in their thirties usually don’t feel like visiting their GPs unless there is some sort of sickness.

But once you cross the age of 40, it is the perfect time to start to make a connection with your regular doctor. This gives you a chance to discuss current health concerns, family history and lifestyle issues that could impact on future health. Addressing issues early is the best approach to longevity and there is a lot of sense in the saying “prevention is better than cure”. In other words, it is better to put a fence at the top of the cliff instead of having an ambulance waiting at the bottom.

What an annual health check-up might be like

When you first visit the GP for an annual check-up, it starts with a series of questions to take your medical history and learn more about your body, relating to family and medical history, previous use of medicine, previous surgeries or procedures, lifestyle, food allergies, alcohol consumption, smoking, drug use, exercise and sleep habits, sexual health and diet.

These questions help the GP understand your physical and mental health, putting them in a better position to identify any irregularities in your health patterns that may require correcting or monitoring.

By having a regular GP this extensive background information is not required at each visit. By seeing multiple doctors for quick consultations makes it very difficult for one doctor to give adequate general health advice and follow up on any investigation. You will feel more comfortable discussing personal details if a good patient-doctor relationship has developed.

The physical check-up

The physical check-up will include the following but will not be limited to:

  • Measurement of height and weight
  • A listen to your chest
  • Blood pressure taken
  • Possibly check your tummy
  • A visual check of your skin
  • Look for signs of any physical discomfort.

Depending on the answers to these checks, the GP might request a blood or urine test from the laboratory for further diagnosis. Once the results of the test are with the doctor, your health history will be discussed and the doctor will go over any concerns based on the recorded information.

While many men may not be jumping towards the prospect of a rectal exam or a testicular exam, the possible need for these examinations should also be discussed.

Cancer, depression, hypertension, diabetes and obesity are some of the most common illnesses that can be helped through early detection. There are health programs that a doctor can refer to and help you get started on, even before the disease sets in.

Frequency of check-ups

Depending on the information gathered at the initial consultation, there will be follow up of tests they have ordered. Depending on the individual’s age, examination findings and test results, an individual may need to be seen every six months – or visits could be stretched to every two years.

Prevention, prevention, prevention

If there is a family history of prostate cancer, bowel cancer, heart disease or stroke, regular check ups are the best way to prevent and minimise any form of disease or illnesses in the future. By having a regular doctor who knows your history makes it easier for them to advise which blood tests and investigations are appropriate for you. Once this information is obtained, your doctor will be able to inform you as to how frequently you should be seen.  _____________________________________________________________________Dr Geoff McGrath is a General Practitioner at the Fox Valley Medical Centre, Wahroonga

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